There was a time when herby Giloy lived a humble and highly respected life in some Indian homes where prevention and tradition were life's mantra. Desi boomers and the generation before them for centuries used clean stems of Giloy in traditional medicine to boost their immune system. Back in the day, they had it ground along with water, filtered through a sieve (soft muslin before the stainless steel sieve came into existence), and voila, a shot of Giloy was ready! Giloy juice or kadha can be consumed with tulsi and ashwagandha too.
My mum did this every morning empty stomach, especially for a few months last year (thank you, Corona, you won - temporarily, though). For trivial issues that my mum has, giloy kadha prepared with a pinch of fresh black pepper is her go-to instead of her beloved daughter. I won't take this one personally because Giloy became my go-to as well. I always wanted an elder sister I could look up to for support, finally found her in Giloy. Let's find out why.
Root of immortality
Giloy's scientific name or Latin name is Tinospora Cordifolia. We know you will never take this name unless you are a scientist, but knowledge is power, right?. Found almost everywhere in India. If you have a green thumb, it is pretty easy to grow at home because of its ability to develop quickly.
It is also known as "Guduchi" in Hindi. From the benefits, it is the Gucci of ayurvedic herbs (for quality, not price) and has a bitter taste just like truth.
Other Sanskrit and ayurvedic names of Giloy are "amrita", "amritavalli", and a highly regarded herb in the Charak Samhita. Stems have the highest nutritional content as they are anti-inflammatory & antipyretic; some people juice the roots and leaves to boost immunity. It helps balance out your body doshas (Vata, Kapha, and Pitta) and function at your optimum level.
Benefits of Giloy
Giloy is a potent immunity enhancer and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antipyretic properties. Antipyretic essentially means one which reduces fever. This little gem out there is the answer to good health. Let's find out how.
For dengue fever:
Consumption of Giloy juice whilst battling dengue fever provides immense support to your immunity. It keeps your fever in check and does not allow the platelet count to drop to dangerous levels. I know this works because my mum had dengue (as Mumbai is always under construction and a breeding ground for mosquitoes) in October 2018. Her body managed the illness without being admitted to the hospital. Yes, she did fall sick, but she found immense support in this herbal juice under her physician's guidance. Giloy is an antipyretic herb and helps build the immune system, strengthening the immune response to fight against infections.
For hay fever:
Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis, which comes with its host of symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal itching, obstruction, and watery eyes. As per Ayurveda, hay fever results from toxic remains, also known as ama, in the human body due to lack of proper digestion. Giloy helps alleviate these symptoms and balances out the Kapha (water and earth element) within your body because of its Rasayana (rejuvenating) properties.
It is widely used in traditional folk medicine to regulate blood glucose levels across India. Alkaloids found in Giloy stems reduce blood sugar levels naturally. It may help prevent diabetes incorporated with a healthy lifestyle if you are someone with a diabetic lineage. It also supports managing various diabetic complications such as ulcers, kidney damage, wounds due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
For digestion:Giloy helps build a robust digestive system and strengthens against acidity, indigestion, flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea because of its pachan (digestive) properties. A strong gastric system keeps the elements of the body in harmony leading to an illness-free life. Giloy is suitable for your gut.
For Liver diseases:
Liver diseases are a result of injury due to alcohol overdose over an extended period. Giloy helps manage the damage, improve metabolism and liver function due to its digestive properties. It helps rejuvenate and inhibit degenerate due to its Rasayana quality. It reduces damage by free radicals acting as an antioxidant.
Other Health Benefits, Effectivity & Side effects
Research studies published in India showcase the benefits of Giloy in managing rheumatoid arthritis, gout and cancer because of its potent anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties. One may incorporate this herb to prevent such diseases.
It is most effective for digestion, hay fever and dengue fever and overall health support for your body. However, there is a lack of proper evidence in using giloy as a treatment line for cancer, arthritis, gout etc.
No significant side effects of this herb have been reported yet. Do not consume Giloy if you are on an anti-diabetic allopathic treatment, as it may drop blood sugar to undesirable levels. Please check with your physician always for contradictions in case of diabetes and autoimmune disorders.
How can you consume Giloy?
Juicing is the way to go to Giloy as it is available in its closest natural form. There are giloy powder and capsule options available out there; depending on your consumption preference and requirement, you may choose one.
You may also prepare it at home if you have the patience to find it or grow it, grind it, sieve it, and the courage to swallow the bitterness.
My maternal side swears by prevention and tradition, and my paternal side swears by living a good life. A healthy debate about a shot of Giloy helps your immune system, or a shot of rum is always on the table. In times of calamity and suffering, we understand the true essence and character of a human. Giloy, even though not human, did just that. My outlook is slightly modern; if you can have fun with someone every day, that defines character and essence. I have found balance and a sweet spot between my genetic makeup; as long as it has taste and nutrition in day to day life, I will have it.
Giloy proved her worth and made her space in our lives, like every woman out there who supports, evolves, and enhances every life she touches. What's typically more interesting about Giloy is that her leaves are heart-shaped and her fruits red.
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.